Mon 22 Sep 2014 - Sat 18 Oct 2014
Here are some of my thoughts about my time aboard.
Unlike just about every other cruise line, Voyage to Antiquity has only the one ship - the Aegean Odyssey.
It is getting on a bit in years, has zero frills and is not the prettiest ship afloat.
A SHIPS TOUR ....
Starting at the bow on the top deck, there is a promenade around the quite nice looking Observation lounge and an outdoor bar overlooking the swimming pool.
The lounge was used for private functions by various groups, AHI, Road Scholars & Mr Bridge etc. & so, often out of bounds to me.
That was not a bother as I did not spend much time here anyway. It shook a lot and had a limited view out doors. But on one visit, the pianist was using it to practice & that was really irritating.
Neither fish nor foul
The unshaded bar outside the lounge overlooking the pool, is functional & not very attractive by itself, but it does have some nice comfy armchairs and a great view over the ocean & of course - Lorraine & Irish.
This bar often ( if not every day ) had a cocktail special for a very reasonable 5 dollars. Beer was also reasonable at 3.80 even for a fairly large can of Guinness. But they then add a12.5% service charge onto your end of cruise statement. I have never understood why they feel the need to do that.
It was nice place to sit & watch the sun go down with a sundowner.
There is no deck that has a promenade all the way round the ship & what outdoor decking there is goes up and down steps. It can be a bit confusing getting around. No one used any of it as a jogging track. Some did walk it & the steps would have taken off a few calories.
Taking the steps down to the lido deck brings you to the pool. Just a rectangle with nothing to commend it. It has what seemed an adequate number of sun loungers, most with sunshades.
At the forward end there is a sitting area with the same comfy armchairs & a few table & chairs for the Healthy Breakfast. ie nothing fried.
Complimentary tea and coffee are available here most of the day & I would take some upstairs as they charged about 2.80 up there.
This should have been a great place to sit, out of the wind & weather except it was very noisy & vibrated too much for my liking.
Heading around the pool & further aft there were a few loungers there & again on the next deck down. I never saw too many people using these.
Another set of stairs takes us down to the half outdoor, half under cover terrace. Looking very nice with white, canvas captains chairs and tables for two, four and a few for eight. A few sunshades and a bit of greenery.
Our Captain was often taking his meal out here on a captains chair.
The center has a Tapas bar & between the inside doors a grill.
It's a great area for al fresco breakfast, lunch and dinner but it has one major drawback.
Not some raunchy comedian but globules of smut from the smoke stack.
I stayed under the covered area to avoid getting black & I hate to think what a mess it would make of a nice white dress.
I expect the excess smut is down to the age of the ship & probably not a lot they can do about that.
There was often a lot of pollution issuing from the smoke stack, as there is on every cruise ship. I may have just noticed it more on this one.
Coming indoors from the terrace & there is a table between the doors groaning ( or is that the passengers ) under the weight of food. Deserts or Pastries. Cheese or ice cream.
No ice cream at dinner but if you ask Steph nicely, he will make some appear on your table.
Lots of seating space here. Normally no waiter service except for drinks but when the number of passengers dropped to 150, they alternated closing the terrace & main restaurants. On those occasions there was waiter service on the terrace & indoors with a menu.
At the far end there is a horseshoe shaped buffet counter with all sorts of goodies. Lots of cheery staff here, serving from the buffet & taking food to the tables which is a nice touch
Both indoors & outdoors are nothing fancy but are comfortable, pleasant eating areas.
Leaving the dining room, passing the small shop on the left. Nothing particularly expensive here. It has the usual logo stuff, jewelry, things you have forgotten to bring and - CHOCOLATE.
A very large Dairy MIlk was about 5 dollars. It’s more expensive at home.
Turn right for the small library. Well stocked with travel reference books but not a lot of ‘take away’ books. Pick up a photo - copy of several daily papers here.
By the library, take the door to the Port side of the Promenade deck. Quite a nice sitting area here but a bit cluttered. Carry on down to the end & up some stairs. This area looks like it might be private or off-limits but there is nothing stopping anyone sitting here & It was a favourite place of mine to sit outdoors & watch the ocean. Rarely any other passsengers here.
Carry on around for a nice view off the front of the ship.
You cannot get upstairs from here so back downstairs, along the starboard Promenade deck & indoors again. Turning left brings you into the Lounge. This is quite large with lots windows & light. It has the bar at the near end, and a small dance floor between it & the stage. This is the place where the two musical acts perform. One was a three some - piano, double base & violin. The other a duo of keyboard & violin. The violinist also sang.
Both of the acts were quite good & I enjoyed them but a bit too much of the same thing.
The stage has a really annoying pole right in front of it, obscuring a performer. I mentioned it to the cruise director & wondered if there was some way of bringing the acts in front of the pole. I got nonsense for a response.
This is one of the meeting places for excursions.
The other is just forward. It is a non sloping, theater type area where the evening films, lectures & shore excursion briefings are held. An adequate space for those but get there early if you want a seat where you can see the screen. It can also be a bit squeaky.
Down stairs to deck five for the reception & a small sitting area, the hair dressing salon & Internet room. I never saw much of a line-up at reception.
Downstairs again for the disembarkation door.
The Spa & sauna & gym are also down here. Both are tiny. if there were a ships cat, you would not be able the swing it here. The sauna is free to use.
Downstairs again for the formal dining room. If there were portholes here I expect we would be able to see fishes swimming past. At first glance it does not appear very large but there is a slightly lower level, almost out of sight from the central area.
I was only here twice for an evening meal but many times for lunch.
I have found these dining options great for lunch on any ship. The food is served fairly quick since there are hardly any diners. I may be wrong but expect people don’t come here because they don’t want to get dressed up as they would for diner. But, there is not much of a dress code for lunch and I come here straight from a mornings excursion. Shorts & all.
Wine is not complimentary at lunch but a bottle cost only 18 dollars. When it still had some left, Kadeck took it away & brought it back another day. An economical way to buy it.
I had 2 cabins on this ship.
Everything in the cheaper one on deck four was small. Maybe the smallest I have experienced on a ship. Unusually on a ship, the two small beds could not be combined into one. My feet hung over the end so I had to untuck the duvet. I could not convince the steward not to tuck the duvet in even though it is less work for him & that duvets are not meant to be tucked in. The looser they are, the more efficient & they need to be efficient to combat the extreme cold of the room. Lots of noise too coming from outside the cabin
The second Cain was an upgrade to the fifth floor and an entirely different animal. Spacious, with a window & large shower. But still too cold. Much quieter but on the first night there was a lot of noise at 2:30 AM. I mentioned it to the officer in charge but we could not identify what it might have been.
A few nights later it happened again & I went out searching the source. Not a sole around, but there was a vacuum cleaner & this might have been the source.
I do no watch TV except while getting changed but did notice a difference between the two cabins. The pricier cabin had a large wide screen. It looked & sounded better than the cheap seats but lost the info from the top & bottom of the screen. So with the smaller screen, I could see the temperature on the navigation channel and the news scrolling on BBC etc, but not on the wide screen.
I got the spacious cabin as a free upgrade but feel that the amount of money I paid I should have had it anyway.
I would not take a ‘cheap’ cabin were I to go on this ship again & the more expensive cabins would probably be above my budget.
Everywhere on this ship except the outside terrace is very clean.
The early morning wake up call is a delight, being an actual person, one or the other of the reception girls.
There were definite gaps between meals. Much longer gaps than on most cruises. Still, with breakfast, lunch, tea & dinner - nobody starved. Cabin service may be available but I never use it.
Most of my meals were taken on the terrace & were always very good with lots of variety.
Was it better than other cruises? Not really, but the cheese trolley was for sure. Cheese on most cruises tends to be of the rubber variety. Brie type cheeses particularly.
On the Odyssey the smelly cheeses were just that. Smelly - the way they are meant to be.
A couple of times per cruise there was a special buffet. The Indian was excellent with choices of fieryness.
Greek night had one of the violinists playing dressed in a Greek outfit which was very pleasant.
Mexican night was pretty good too.
I did wonder about the themes though. Greek ok but why not Turkey, Georgian etc. Match the food with the destination.
Wine, beer & soda are complimentary with dinner & is free flowing for the two hours of dinner - 7:00 to 9:00. Hard to get too soused in that time but some managed it.
Everyone has a Quiet Vox wireless receivers with an earphone that clips over the ear, not inside it. A wonderful device but one I did not always wear. It’s nice to have a quiet life sometimes.
Everyone is has a coloured sticker attached to their key card. The daily schedule is delivered to the cabins the night before & these give times and which of two assembly point for each coloured group. The meeting place could change from day to day & this caused a bit of confusion some days.
The groups are staggered about five minutes apart so getting off the shop & onto a bus is very efficient. I would like to have had them spaced a little further apart so that the busses staggered their arrival at pee stops and sites to be visited.
The excursions are very history oriented as one would expect with Voyages to Antiquity, but I did not find the actual excursions a lot different than on any other cruise.
Thirty some people to a bus.
A guide droning on & on, & on & ..... ZZZzzzz....
Being a small ship I was expecting smaller groups so there is no advantage there. Everyone gets to the same site at the same time. I sometimes found I was listening to a different guide on my Soft Vox as the groups were overlapping. The few meals were taken by the entire ship at the same venue & time.
No include shopping stops which was a relief, though most excursions were morning only & so there was plenty of opportunity to shop for those inclined that way.
I did like the half day idea but the Athens to Istanbul segment had excursions that were too similar.
Acropolis, Church, Museum.
Museum, Church, Church, Ruin & etc. etc.
Of course that is what the cruise was advertised as but not enough variety for me & as there was only one excursion offered per port, no opportunity for variety.
I expected to enjoy the fact the excursions are included in the price but for me it takes away some of the enjoyment from the experience. A lot less preparation, investigating & choosing excursions, independent v ships cruise.
I like all that.
As I had paid for the excursion I felt loath to go off on my own or even just stay onboard.
This is not a fault of the cruise line. I just like a bit more variety & choice. Maybe they could offer a choice between morning & afternoon tours. That would be an improvement.
In a word - Excelent.
Waiters & Waitresses - Mostly Philippino and even more friendly than normal. A cheery hello by name everywhere I went.
Cabin stewards - I had two & both excellent as per.
Excursion girls & guys - Did a great job with information, getting us off & on the ship & keeping us well shepherded throughout.
The lectures - I never went to one but hear they were mostly very good. They seemed approachable outside rhe lectures.
The officers - those I met were very good. The captain should be forced to listen to his arrival & noon announcements. Every one was exactly the same, just the place names changing.
People who go on this cruise line expect lots of history, only one excursion on offer per day, good food, early to bed, early to rise.
It’s what is being advertised & delivered
Reading this I might give the idea I did not like it. Not true - it was most enjoyable but I would not do it again.
I like to have more choices & this was a bit too sheeplike for me.